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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 25 April, 2014

Ian Paisley to spend sixth night in hospital

Friend and colleague Reverend Alan Smylie has spoken to TheJournal.ie about the goodwill being sent to the former First Minister from throughout the community.

Image: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire/Press Association Images

NORTHERN IRELAND’S FORMER First Minister Ian Paisley is to spend a sixth night in Ulster Hospital after being admitted for a heart condition last weekend.

The 85-year-old Reverend was rushed to hospital suffering from what has been described as a “serious heart condition”. He remains in the intensive care unit at the hospital.

The Paisley family has asked for privacy at this difficult time. However, his colleague Rev. Alan Smylie said they remain “very appreciative” of the support they are receiving from the Free Presbyterian demonination, as well as the wider community.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie earlier today, Rev. Smylie said that he had been inundated with calls, texts and emails sending wishes to the minister and his family.

“People have been coming up to us on the streets. A man even came up to me in a butcher’s shop this morning,” he said. “He is such a well-known person, this really touches everyone.”

There has been support and enquiries from throughout the community – from people from all shades, opinions and demoninations.”

Reverend Smylie – both a friend and colleague – has led special times of prayer over the past week at Martyrs’ Memorial Church and elsewhere.

Earlier today, he conducted a funeral at Dr. Paisley’s Ravenhill Road Free Presbyterian church during which the family requested special prayers for his recovery.

Services over the next few days will continue to focus on Dr Paisley’s health, he said.

Paisley himself gave his final sermon just nine days before being admitted to hospital.

Ulster Hospital and Northern Ireland’s health board remains silent on his condition and care. Paisley has suffered with ill health for a number of years and was fitted with a pacemaker a year ago.

Founder of the Democratic Unionist Party, Paisley served as an MEP from 1979 to 2004. During political negotiations in 2004 he became seriously ill and later said he had “walked in death’s shadow”. However, he went on to serve as the First Minister in the Stormont executive from 2005 to 2008.

He continues to be a member of the House of Lords.

More: Paisley remains in intensive care after heart problems>

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